As parents, we want our children to be a healthy as they possibly can be. When we feel as though our little ones are not breathing correctly while they sleep, naturally we become concerned.
However, some parents do not understand how to tell whether their child has sleep apnea or not; and so, they spend more of their time either wondering or worrying.
To do a quick assessment for yourself before you talk to your doctor, simply look for the common signs associated with childhood obstructive sleep apnea.
Understanding Obstructive Sleep Apnea
In order for you to accurately decide whether or not your child has sleep apnea, you will first need to know what it is. According to WebMD, sleep apnea is a breathing disorder that, unfortunately, plagues about 3% of children around the globe.
Often, this problem even affects newborns as it seems to have a genetic link associated with it. Some factors that make children more likely to suffer from sleep apnea include, but are not limited to:
- Enlarged tonsils/adenoids
- Large tongue
- Small jaw
- Decreased muscle tone
- Existence of Down’s Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, and other neuromuscular disorders
Common Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
If you suspect that your child is suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) you should be rightfully concerned. Before you get too worried, however, try to observe your child’s habits and behaviours for a bit.
Noticing any of the following symptoms is a possible sign that your child could be suffering from sleep apnea:
- Snoring Loudly – If you notice that your child is snoring quite loudly as he or she sleeps, it could be a sign of a problem. Check to see how your child is sleeping, monitor their bedtime snacks, and then see if the problem persists. If it does, you may want to contact a doctor.
- Insomnia and/or Restless Sleep – Your child simply might not want to go to bed, but if they are willing and they still cannot get to sleep or stay asleep you may have a problem on your hands. Check on your child periodically throughout the night for a week or so to see if there are any issues about which you should be concerned.
- Sleepiness – Children are known for being energetic; so if your child is acting sleepy while they are awake it may be a sign that their sleep is being interrupted by sleep apnea. Of course, this could be a sign of something else, but it is doesn’t hurt to keep an eye on it.
- Headaches in the Morning – Noticing that your little one has frequent headaches in the morning is a sure sign of a problem. Waking up periodically throughout the night or not getting sufficient oxygen while they sleep will make their heads hurt in the morning. If your child is too young to tell you about any headaches, monitor their behavior and sensitivity to sound and light instead.
- Choking or Coughing upon Awakening – Your child may be choking and/or coughing once they wake up for a reason; and that reason could be sleep apnea. If you notice your child gasping for air or describing a crawling feeling in their throat, it could be a sign that they wake up frequently throughout the night.
- Sore Throat – Even if your child does not cough or choke, having a sore throat could be a sign of a bigger problem than seasonal changes or the common cold. If this happens frequently enough, it could be a significant clue that your poor child suffers from nighttime breathing issues.